Wrinkled Roasted Carrots
– one bunch of small ‘teenage’ carrots (slightly larger than thumb width), scrubbed well, but not peeled
– 1 T. Olive Oil
– coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Trim the top 1/4 inch of the carrots and discard. Snap off the hair-like bottom tip of the carrot, if present. Cut each carrot lengthwise down the middle. Toss carrot halves in a bowl with olive oil. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt. Roast, undisturbed for about 25 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown and slightly caramelized and the outer skins are wrinkled. Enjoy.
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This might just be the easiest dish you ever make. With just three ingredients, you get delicious side dish that is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.
Last weekend I was at the farmer’s market and I came across a booth with some delicious looking ‘teenage’ carrots’ — larger than baby carrots, but still significantly smaller and more delicate than regular, fully grown carrots. And the price was right too — $1.00 per 1lb bunch, a significantly better deal than my typical favorite red or purple carrots (which are admittedly more beautiful) which sell for $3 or so per 1lb bunch (still a pretty good deal for locally grown heirloom organic carrots). These little orange teenage carrots were so cute that I couldn’t pass them up.
I have a somewhat uneasy relationship with carrots — I HATE (with a capital H-A-T-E) the small, perfectly shaped, processed baby carrots found in the super market — these aren’t baby carrots at all, but rather are fully grown carrots that have been perfectly machined into a uniform torpedo shape (talk about taking a perfectly good vegetable and transforming it to how nature never intended it to be); I can never seem to work out what to do with large fully-grown carrots other than add them to stews or dice them for mirepoix; I don’t really like carrots with any sort of glaze; raw carrots cut into sticks are hit or miss depending on the quality of the carrot; steamed carrots are a little blah and have a tendency towards mushy-ness; a stir fried preparation is decent; carrot soup is pretty good if the supporting ingredients are in harmony; carrot juice is a.o.k. with me (though I don’t have a juicer) — yet through all of this though, there is one method has never failed me — roasting in a hot oven with a little olive oil and salt. Simple, easy, and delicious.
Roasting works best when your carrots are mid-sized, i.e. about 1 – 2 thumb widths at the top, and no longer than about 6-7 inches. With carrots of this size, it isn’t necessary to peel them — just scrub them well when you bring them home.
The recipe above is my go-to for all types of carrots, no matter the color — whether they are orange, yellow, red, white, or purple, carrots are delicious when roasted. For a visual flare, try to find colored carrots at the farmer’s market — red, purple, yellow, white, or a mixture of colors. It’s amazing that though these unusually colored varieties taste 90-95% the same as the typical orange carrot, a plate full of stunning colored carrots is a whole different experience than a plate of standard orange carrots. You may need to adjust the roasting time based on the size of your carrots– what you’re going for is a golden, caramelized underside and slightly wrinkled skin that is nearly crunch at the tip.
If you’re in the mood for herbs, a light sprinkling of fresh thyme, dill, chervil, or tarragon would go well with the roasted carrots — simply sprinkle the herbs onto the carrots at the same time as the salt. A little less than 1T of chopped fresh herbs (less for stronger herbs like tarragon) will be enough for 1 pound of carrots.